The E38 generation (1995-2001) had a five-speed automatic or manual transmission. The engine variants in Europe were 725tds, 728i, 730i, 730d, 735i, 740i (4.0 and 4.4 L), 740d and 750i (with a 5.4 L 322 bhp [240 kW] engine, as was used in the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph).
In the Americas, the models were sold as the 740i, 740iL and 750iL. The 740i and 740iL share the same 4.4 L V8 engine. The 740iL is essentially a long-wheelbase 740i (hence the "L" in the model name). The considerably rarer 5.4 L V12-powered 750iL was only available as a long-body; there was no E38 750i in the US lineup. The 750iL was BMW's flagship sedan.
The E38 was introduced to the American market in 1995 originally with a 4.0L V8 and steel sunroof. For the 1996 model year, a new 4.4L V8 (producing 282 bhp) along with a glass sunroof replaced these features while the base 740i was not offered for the 1996 model year. In 1997, the 740i returned and in 1998, the 7-series received significant safety upgrades: side impact airbags standard up front and optional in the rear with a new, industry first, standard Head Protection System. For the 1999 model year, the 7-series was given a refreshening with new headlights, tail lights, and trunk molding. A sport package is now offered that included larger, 18" wheels, as well as sport suspension, torque converter, and axel. In 2000, the protection models are now offered and in 2001, another minor refreshening took place with clear turn signals and painted lower body work.
A performance-enhancing sport package was available in the 740i as well; cars with this package are called the 740i Sport. A separate sport package was finally offered in the 740iL and 750iL in 2001, the final year of E38 production.
Features of the E38 7 Series included high-pressure headlight washers, auto-leveling xenon HID headlamps, power moonroof, a six-CD changer with 14 speakers and four subwoofers, onboard navigation and rain-sensing wipers. Other features included an automatic climate control system with full left/right controls and a 3-position memory system for the driver’s seat, safety-belt height, steering wheel and outside mirrors. Front side airbags and a Head Protection System (HPS) were also standard. The car featured an all-leather interior with burl walnut trim. The continuous passive motion "Active" seat technology was introduced in 1998 to improve comfort for the driver and front passenger.
The 5-speed automatic transmission came with Adaptive Transmission Control, Sport and Manual modes for responsive handling.
The base prices in 2001 were US$62,900 for the 740i, US$66,900 for the 740iL and US$92,100 for the 750iL.
740iL and 750iL Protection Line light-armored vehicles were built from 2000-2001, and cost US$99,100 and US$124,400, respectively. These models included body armor, bullet-resistant glass and run-flat tires.
A rare executive V12-powered stretch limousine was also produced, called the BMW L7.